The Judiciary works towards the resolution of conflict in the society by resolving disputes which arise out of the operation of laws and involve the application of remedies and the punishment of offenders.
The Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago provides an accountable court system in which timeliness and efficiency are the hallmarks, while still protecting integrity, fairness, equality and accessibility and attracting public trust and confidence.
The Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, headed by the Chief Justice, comprises the Supreme Court of Judicature and the Magistracy. The Judiciary is the third arm of the State. As in most democratic countries, the Judiciary is established by the Constitution to operate independently from the Executive as a forum for the timely resolution of legal disputes between individuals and bodies including the state.
The Supreme Court of Judicature is made up of The Court of Appeal and the High Court, as is provided under section 99 of the Constitution which states: “There shall be a Supreme Court of Trinidad and Tobago consisting of a High Court and a Court of Appeal with such jurisdiction and powers as conferred on these Courts respectively by this Constitution or any other law.”
The Magistracy under a Chief Magistrate comprises the Courts of Summary CriminalJurisdiction and the Petty Civil Courts. These Courts are established respectively under the Summary Courts Act. Ch. 4:20, and the Petty Civil Courts Act. Ch. 4:21 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago.
The Chief Justice bears overall responsibility for furthering the mission and vision of the Judiciary, and is in charge of the general administration of justice in Trinidad and Tobago. The Chief Magistrate reports to the Chief Justice.
Masters of the High Court have similar jurisdiction to Judges of the High Court sitting in Chambers, except for matters where statute expressly limits their jurisdiction (such as the exercise of powers to imprison or to grant interlocutory injunctions).
Legislation amending the Supreme Court of Judicature Act and passed in the Parliament earlier this year, approved the largest increase to the statutory complement of Judges since the country’s independence in 1962. The new provisions allow for 36 Judges, an increase of 13 at the High Court level, and for 12 Judges, up from nine in the Court of Appeal. There are at present three Masters of the High Court.